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Google breaks out Docs, Sheets from Drive mobile app

Google breaks out Docs, Sheets from Drive mobile app

A separate mobile app for the Slides presentation tool is also in the works

Google is releasing separate mobile apps for its Docs, Sheets and Slides apps, breaking them out from the Google Drive storage service where they used to reside.

Previously, users who opened a file in the Drive mobile app would work on it in the Drive interface, but now they'll be asked to install the Docs word processing app, Sheets spreadsheet app and, soon, the Slides presentation app. From then on, when they open a file in Drive the corresponding app will launch.

"While the Drive app is a convenient place to store your stuff, we want to make it easier for you to quickly find, edit and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go," Brian Levee, a Google product manager, wrote in a blog post.

Another motivation might have been the recent release of native Microsoft Office apps for the iPad. Microsoft has distinct mobile apps for OneDrive -- the Google Drive equivalent -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Google, by breaking its apps out of Drive, gives them more visibility on devices.

Its new Docs and Sheets apps add full offline support, so users will be able to create and edit files even when they're offline. Previously, users could only view documents and spreadsheets offline with the Drive app.

So where does that leave Drive now that its usage scope has been shrunk?

"You'll still be able to use the Drive app to view and organize all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and more," Levee wrote.

Android and iOS apps for Docs and Sheets are available today in the Google Play and Apple App Store, respectively. An app for Slides will be released soon.

Google doesn't plan to replicate this change for the desktop browser version of the apps, where Drive remains the umbrella website for Docs, Sheets, Slides and other tools.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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